As they say, necessity is the mother of all invention. In this day and age, there are a lot of inventions that come out of the woodwork that somehow try to ease the difficulties we encounter in real life. Ideas and inventions do not have to be necessarily grand in scale, they just have to have a niche that can be served. The invention has to solve a problem and if it is coupled with a great marketing strategy, then the inventor may be able to realize a good return on his investment
So, why do we need to patent? Why do we need to protect an idea? What are the different considerations that we have to take into account when we seek to register our ideas?
Patenting our ideas means other people would not be able to copy, use, offer or sell our ideas to other interested parties within the territory where the patent has been applied. This means we get protection on our ideas that might turn out to be profit-making ventures in the future. It would give you the right to develop your ideas as you see fit – you can bring in investors or other support groups to help you with the exposition and development of your ideas to fruition.
If you really want to patent an idea you have got to determine whether it would fall under the category of process, composition of matter, article of manufacture or an improvement of any of the aforementioned three. If the idea is not useful or is part of the natural phenomena or is considered an abstract idea, then you won’t get a patent for it no matter what you do.
If your idea falls under the aforementioned categories, then these steps indicate how to patent an idea that could possibly earn you profits if everything goes according to plan.
- Make sure your idea can be useful. As mentioned earlier, your idea should either be a process, an article of manufacture or a composition of matter before it can be patented. Make sure that it has practical applications in the real world for it to be given a patent. The burden of proof of proving the usefulness of the idea falls on the inventor.
- Ensure that the idea is new, non-obvious and useful. Make sure that your ideas for patent would be able to withstand the criticism of the panel – make sure it would be new – meaning no replications would be allowed, it would not be easily thought of by other people and it should be intrinsically useful.
- Make sure that it doesn’t have any patent existing. Look at the existing patents and find out if your idea is indeed unique. Make sure that no other previous patent has been filed for your idea. If there’s a previous patent, then you would have to let go of your idea.
- Seek legal help and advice. If you find that poring over legalese is not your thing, better get yourself a patent lawyer to help you navigate the maze on how to patent an idea.
- Determine what patent you need. You would have to decide whether you need a design patent or a utility patent.
- File a provisional patent. Seeing as that your ideas have withstood the initial scrutiny, then you would be good to file a provisional patent. Remember that the provisional patent is only good for 12 months.
- File for an electronic application. Coordinate with your patent office to file an electronic application of your patent. This extends the scope of your patent into the digital world. You would be given a customer number and a digital certificate.
- Prepare other needed requirements. Make sure you would be able to prepare the specifications, the drawings and other attachments that would be required by the patents office.
- Wait for the authorization code and the reference number before filling up the requisite forms. Make sure you have the necessary data before filling in the requisite forms for submission.
- Wait to find out if your patent has been approved or rejected. The waiting game begins – you would have to find out if your idea has been approved and been given a patent or has been rejected and you’ll go back to the drawing board.
Patenting an idea is a circuitous but necessary process that would ensure you get your rights protected. If you have an idea, and you would like to develop it, take every opportunity to ensure you would get first shot at it rather than any other party.